Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera on Tuesday proposed adding an extra 20,000 police to the 155,000 already on foot patrol, in order to combat urban security issues in cities around the country.
“We are working to increase the national police’s foot patrols. We will meet with the minister for the interior and we are talking with the treasury minister in order to consider this possibility … we need more men patrolling our streets,” Rivera said.
The defense minister said the extra 20,000 police would be mainly assigned to urban zones, as part of a plan currently in the works to improve citizen security. He added that the policy, which will also include tactics to combat criminality and impunity, will be announced in the next few days.
Rivera also praised the Venezuelan government for its decision to increase security in the troubled border region.
“The Colombian government received Venezuela’s announcement about the deployment and reinforcement of military personnel at the border zone with pleasure,” Rivera said.
“We hope that the steps take over the last few days continue to create trust between both countries and translate into concrete results in the fight against criminality that affects both nations,” Rivera added.
The defense minister also said that within the next few days a date will be set for a meeting between high ranking members of the armed forces from both countries to establish protocols on which increased bilateral cooperation will be based.
Venezuelan Minister Carlos Mata announced Tuesday that extra troops will be deployed in a bid to counter soaring crime in the border region, where Colombian guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries, and drug gangs are known to cross the border to escape Colombian authorities or traffic drugs.
The strengthening of border security comes at a time when Colombia and Venezuela are working to repair ties broken by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez following Colombian accusations that Colombian FARC guerrillas are hiding in Venezuela.
Chavez has always said that right wing paramilitaries are sowing terror in the region. According to locals, both groups are present on the Venezuelan side of the border.
Last Friday the two countries set up five bilateral commissions, whose aim will be to resolve long-standing issues, particularly in terms of security, border control, and trade between the two countries.